There’s an old saying, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” There’s another saying, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” There’s even another one that goes, “you can only see the tip of the iceberg.” Then there’s a trade in which the Vegas Golden Knights acquired Marcus Kruger for “future considerations” on Sunday and a 2018 5th round pick for Marcus Kruger on Tuesday. All of that belongs in one paragraph, believe me.
Prior to the Expansion Draft the Chicago Blackhawks were one of the many teams that appeared to be in a bit of a pickle. They were hampered with seven NMCs and a salary cap situation that needed to be resolved. So, George McPhee and Stan Bowman got to work.
An agreement was made, Vegas would select Trevor van Riemsdyk at the Expansion Draft, trade for Marcus Kruger afterwards, and the Blackhawks would take “The Pledge” to not make a move get in the way of any of it. It took some time to complete the process, because of a $2M bonus in Kruger’s contract that was to be paid by Chicago, but on Sunday night the deals were done and Vegas and Chicago’s interaction with expansion was over.
George McPhee then flipped both players selected to the Carolina Hurricanes. In the end, here’s what happened…
Vegas Golden Knights receive
2017 2nd Round Pick (Jake Leschyshyn)
2018 5th Round Pick
Carolina Hurricanes receive
Trevor van Riemsdyk
2018 7th Round Pick (from Vegas)
Chicago Blackhawks receive
Expansion Draft Considerations
There are so many ways to look at what went down here, and all fans/armchair GMs are free to look at it which ever way they please because you as you know, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
One of the most popular frustrations from fans is that Marcus Kruger only brought back a 5th round pick. Many believe the Golden Knights could have held him until the deadline. Others believe they should have kept Kruger and/or van Riemsdyk. Both are fair points, but must all factors must be taken into consideration with those options.
One major factor, the roster in the NHL has a finite number of places. 23 to be exact. The Golden Knights currently have 11 forwards on one-way contracts. They have three forwards on two-way deals that are not waiver exempt (Carrier, Nosek, Leipsic), and they have two players who are waiver-exempt, but both have a real shot of making the NHL roster out of camp (Tuch and Kolsesar). That’s 16 players… before Kruger. Defensively, the Golden Knights are in an even tighter spot. There are 12 players… before van Riemsdyk.
And roster size is just one piece of the puzzle. Waivers, contract length, arbitration, no trade clauses, no move clauses, the salary cap, contract extensions, age, free agency, and the list goes on and on beyond things even the most die hard fan can consider.
So, for the Golden Knights, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
There’s a long-term plan the Golden Knights are trying to follow, one that’s unclear to us now, but will continue to come into focus over the next two years. Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk were not a part of it. At face value, NHL fans agree, those two players are worth more than a pair of shots at the roulette that is the NHL Draft.
But before you go trying to break down the trade of Kruger, or van Riemsdyk, or start bringing up names like Matt Dumba, Antti Raanta, Sami Vatanen, or Petr Mrazek, remember, you can only see the tip of the iceberg.
Oh, and for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.